On 6 November COFACE Families Europe joined the European Parliament roundtable discussion hosted by the European Alliance for Investing in Children (of which COFACE is member) and MEP Maria Joao Rodrigues, on the role of the next EU budget in tackling child poverty and social exclusion. Civil society was present with MEPs Jean Lambert and Brando Benifei, Marie-Anne Paraskevas from the Commission and social policy officials of Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden Permanent Representations.
The Alliance has been calling for the Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF) to invest in children and prioritise child poverty reduction and has developed a common policy statement for the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) and the Common Provisions Regulations which includes four main recommendations:
- Strengthen ESF+ provisions on reducing child poverty,
- The ESF+ should take a rights-based and comprehensive approach, including by supporting the implementation of the whole European Pillar of Social Rights,
- 30% of the ESF+ should be dedicated to social inclusion and poverty reduction and of migrants and marginalised communities, including the Roma,
- Further alignment with the European Semester should not undermine social investment.
The MEPs congratulated the Alliance for the effectiveness of its advocacy work, as its recommendations have been largely endorsed. MEP Lambert expressed her confidence about the fact that the next MFF will bring a child rights perspective. MEPs also mentioned their initiative of including a Child Guarantee in the European Social Fund Plus, in order to ensure that all children living in poverty can benefit from free medical check-ups, free education, decent housing and a proper diet. “We should not lose this opportunity” MEP Benifei said. The Finnish representative from the Council of the EU added that Finland has one of the lowest of relative child poverty rates in the world and that this was achieved by ensuring universal social security benefits: all children are schooled within the same public system and all parents and families benefit from the same government services. Participants in the meeting agreed that tackling child poverty needs to be high on Member States’ political agenda, and relevant sources of EU funding has to support these efforts.
Speakers also raised the importance of aligning the European Semester process and funding instruments with the European Pillar of Social Rights, which has a principle dedicated to childcare and children’s rights to protection from poverty. As the MFF negotiations are still ongoing, COFACE Families Europe and the members of the Alliance will continue raising their concerns at European level as well as with governments participating in the negotiations on the EU budget.
For more information, contact Irene Bertana, Policy and Advocacy Officer firstname.lastname@example.org